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Pressure Instrument Selection Criteria

Pressure measurement instruments are generally available in various forms except for special designs
and models which are designed for specific applications. Options differ in regard to their pressure range,
electrical and pressure connection, output signal, and measurement accuracy. With so many possible
configurations the selection of a suitable pressure measurement instruments for a specific application
can be a complex process. This overview presents the most important specifications for pressure
measurement instrument selection.
Pressure Range
The first option that should be considered is the pressure range of the pressure measurement
instrument. The pressure range defines the limits of how much pressure can be measured or monitored
in an application. Essential to the pressure range specification are the lower and upper limits of the
pressure range, and if the range is absolute pressure or gauge pressure. The accuracy data specified in
the data sheet applies within the defined pressure range.
Pressure ranges specified in the data sheet which are under and over the limits of the pressure range
are referred to as overpressure ranges. Pressures within this range will not cause any permanent
damage to the pressure sensor, however the maximum measurement error specified in the data sheet
may be exceeded. Only pressure values above the overpressure limit, also known as the burst pressure,
can lead to irreversible damage of the measurement instrument. It does not matter if the burst pressure
is constant or for a short period of time, the damage is irreversible. Once the specified burst pressure
has been applied, permanent damage of the parts exposed to the pressure and the sudden release of
the pressure medium may occur. Therefore, these operating conditions must always be avoided through
careful system design and correct selection of the pressure range.
Special attention is required regarding pressure spikes in the case of dynamic pressure elements. For
example, spikes are caused by switching a pump on and off, the connection or disconnection of a
hydraulic system, and in particular, by the opening and closing of the fast-acting valves in fluid flows.
These pressure surges can reach a multiple of the normal operating pressure. This effect sometimes
occurs in households if a faucet is turned off quickly - the effect is also referred to as water hammer.
The pressure wave developed when a valve is closed quickly propagates through the entire system and
leads to extremely high loads, and often overloads the pressure sensors. Pressure spikes in the
destructive range can even cause the sensor element to burst; therefore, they represent a safety hazard
and must always be considered during system design. Common ways to reduce pressure spikes are to
use restrictors or arc eroded pressure ports. A smaller diameter pressure port helps prevent the
uncontrolled propagation of the pressure spike.
Extremely high pressure spikes can be caused by cavitation and the micro-diesel effect. Cavitation is
generally described as the formation and implosive collapse of hollow spaces in liquids due to pressure
variations. The resulting short-term pressure and temperature peaks lead to erosion of metallic
components. If, due to cavitation, small bubbles consisting of a combustible air-hydrocarbon mixture are
formed, these can burn due to local spontaneous self-ignition during pressure increase; this is known as
the micro-diesel effect. The pressure wave resulting from a micro-explosion can cause serious pressure
spikes in the hydraulic system and lead to the destruction of components. Due to the sensitivity of
pressure sensors, it is necessary to prevent these effects or to ensure the pressure sensors are suitably
protected from the impacts of these effects. Electronic pressure measurement instruments designed

Almost all pressure connections have a standard thread and can be installed at the pressure measurement point. UV radiation). Different threads are commonly used worldwide and both male and female threads are available.e. or environmental influences (e. To enable the simultaneous installation and sealing of the measurement instrument at the measurement point. gasket. or O-ring. They are primarily used with gaseous and liquid pressure media. For this there are different application-specific and regional solutions. one must keep in mind that the mating plug . also referred to as the process connection. There is a difference between pressure connections with an internal diaphragm and connections with a flush (flat) nonclogging diaphragm. For pressure media that can clog or damage the pressure port (for example crystalline. Pressure connections with internal diaphragms and a pressure port are easier to handle and are lower cost than those with a flush diaphragm. Flush Diaphragms Another option to consider is internal diaphragms versus flush diaphragms. the pressure connections are usually designed with a thread. it is necessary to know the specific installation conditions and to consider them when selecting the electrical connection. The most common for parallel threads are sealing behind the thread (i. Other threads require an additional seal. as well to meet regional and national standards. a flush diaphragm is preferred. aggressive. adhesive or abrasive media) the use of a flush diaphragm is recommended. Sealing methods are as diverse as the threads. and the resistance of the instrument to aggressive media. Leading manufacturers often provide many different pressure connections for their pressure measurement instruments in order to meet the various requirements of a wide range of industries and applications. To ensure the reliability of the electrical connection in the application. In process connections with a flush diaphragm the pressure port is sealed using an additional stainless-steel diaphragm. Threads & Seals Threads and seals provide a multitude of options. A transmission fluid transmits the pressure from the flat external diaphragm to the internal sensor diaphragm. if the application requires residue-free cleaning of the pressure connection. Internal vs. a standard plug-in connector or an integral cable. In process connections with an internal diaphragm the pressure medium directly contacts the sensor diaphragm through the pressure port. specially designed restrictors or specialized baffle and deflector plates within the pressure port. the previously mentioned arc eroded pressure ports. Also. The nature of the connection has considerable influence on the IP (Ingress Protection) rating of the instrument and often limits the permissible ambient temperature range.specifically for hazardous applications have protective mechanisms built-in. viscous. Electrical Connection The electrical connection of an electronic pressure measurement instrument also presents multiple options. between the thread and the case) or sealing in front of the thread by means of a metal sealing ring.g. For plug-in systems. Pressure Connection The second option that should be considered is the pressure connection.g. e. Some threads including tapered threads are self-sealing. The pressure connection is used to direct the pressure medium to the sensor.

For example the 10-90 signals has a zero point which is 10% of the supply voltage and a final value which is 90%. This is the most common ratiometric output signal. The analog output signals which are easiest to generate are those which are proportional to the supply voltage. process transmitters and pressure switches with an analog output signal. these are called ratiometric output signals. then the absolute analog signal also decreases by 5%. The 10-90 signal is then specified in the data sheets as “0. so operating data and parameters may be exchanged. offer the possibility of communication with the pressure measurement instrument via a fieldbus system. Standard Analog Output Signal Other output signals include standard analog output. which are already in a digital format. To achieve this. 0 … 10 V and 1 … 5 V. the output signal should be linear and proportional to the applied pressure. the ratio of the output signal to the supply voltage remains the same. The sensor must generate a measurable sensor signal both linear and proportional to the applied pressure. However. electronic pressure measurement instruments with a connection to CANbus or PROFIBUS-DP play a minor role in industrial applications at the moment. both processes are of minor importance in industrial pressure measurement technology. The result is a standard industrial signal which is used as an output signal. The 4 … 20 mA output signal is commonly transmitted using 2-wire technology. filtered and standardized through the electronic components. . However. With the exception of switching output signals. Commonly used are the current signal 4 … 20 mA and the voltage signals 0 … 5 V. which is transmitted to a control unit connected downstream of the instrument. The transmission of digital output signals.5 V ratiometric”. ratiometric output and digital output. Therefore. In pressure transmitters. The most important output signals are described briefly below. the advantages of the current signals are a much lower sensitivity to electromagnetic interference and automatic compensation of resistive loads the current loop.(selected by the user) and the entire associated cable entry form an integral sealing system for the instrument. If the supply voltage decreases by 5%. the resistors in the instrument with strain gauges on the pressure sensor are wired to a Wheatstone bridge. Therefore. which enables the pressure sensor to source its power supply directly from the current loop. In comparison to voltage signals.5 … 4. where the zero point and span represent a constant percentage of the sensor supply voltage. The other analog signals require a 3-wire connection that uses the third lead for the signal positive connection. low level pressure sensor signals are amplified. Output Signals Output signals of electronic pressure measurement instruments are generally an analog voltage or current signal. The elevated zero point of the 4 … 20 mA current signal and likewise with the 1 … 5 V voltage signal also provides cable break detection separately from instrument fault detection. The most common output signal in pressure measurement technology is the analog output signal. pressure measurement instruments are also available with digital outputs. These pressure sensors are often operated with a (reduced) supply voltage of 5 V.

for many applications the advantages of a potentially more accurate measured value do not outweigh the additional costs.Digital communication modulated on an analog output signal (for example using HART on a standard 4 … 20 mA signals) is also only established for pressure measurement instruments in certain areas. the elaborate integration of the instruments as a result of additional control software and the (relatively) low extra benefit. With so many possibilities the selection criteria can be overwhelming. The reasons for this are above all the much higher costs of the pressure measurement instrument and the associated peripherals. Pressure measuring instruments come in a variety of configurations. which can often be a complex process resulting in an endless array of possibilities. and the diagnosis of a faulty digital connection is much more elaborate than for an analog connection. . Since additional configuration of the bus for the pressure measurement instrument is needed. To ensure you are selecting the correct pressure measuring instrument refer to your application or specifications.